INTERVIEW: Prins Nitram

One man’s one-man show: Prins Nitram

All the way from Denmark comes to HK the purveyor of a very unique type of show, this 17th of July (click here for details on the show). The enthralling one-man band performer Prins Nitram, is set to conquer your eardrums, ear ossicles, etc. (wax included) alongside various parts of your imagination with his many-splendored act, and his album Bomty Bomty. We quizzed him about his show and his music, and received some fascinating answers – Read on to discover more…

prinsNitram_noTxt.jpgQ. The influences behind your music are all, largely, somewhat traditional forms of music. How does the synergy of putting all these together and getting something totally new come about?

PN. Being a composer is like being a chef. All the ingredients are there, you just have to pick the right combination – it’s all a matter of taste. I don’t see my songs as new inventions, but more like variations of old recipes.

Q. Do you make use of the developments in music technology while playing live (such as MIDI drum-triggers, pedal keyboards, etc)?

PN. Actually I am a very old-school, handcrafting musician, which also comes across in my live shows. The only technology I use is a camera, a computer and some guitar-pedals.

Q. How do you use the video-version(s) of you that is present while you play?

PN. The video clones play along with me – or more likely, I play along with them.

Prins Nitram PR 04 jpg.jpgQ. A one-man band conjures up images of people on street sides with every limb connected to some part of a different instrument – how different, or how similar even, is your live act to this piece of musical history?

PN. I have done live-shows with all my limbs tied to different instruments, playing drums with one hand, bass with another, keyboard with my toes and singing on top of it all. Actually I have done it so much that my body started to shape differently. One arm got thicker than the other, my back was uneven, and I was developing rheumatism. So I had to stop. The sound and the swing of a real one-man band is pretty unique, because every sound comes from the same person at the same time. In that way, you could say that my video-show is somehow similar to that, but still very different, because I don’t have to compensate physically.

Q. Are you also a “one man”-recording artiste (other than the people who guest on your album), or do you change your musical approach in the studio?

PN. I do most recordings alone, but I like to work with other musicians in the studio as well. The one-man act is mostly a live thing. However, I do work with live-bands occasionally.

Q. Since you already use the medium of video so much, does the idea of doing music videos seem less appealing to you?

PN. Well, I haven’t thought about it. I guess, if I had to make music videos too, I wouldn’t have time to make music and videos for my live-show.

Prins Nitram PR 05 jpg big.jpgQ. In your show, you seem to involve multiple external senses of the audience – do you achieve this by giving them a sensory overload, or inducing a sort of light sensory haze?

PN. I don’t know… You’d have to ask the audience about that.

Q. Being a lone musical performer on stage, what are the most fun, and most frustrating parts of this according to you?

PN. This question is very hard for me to answer, because it is all very frustrating and fun to me. First of all, the making of the videos: This is the only time when I actually get to work with other people – there’s a cameraman, a sound-engineer and me. We have to shoot everything in a day, when the arrangements are still fresh in my head. Time is very precious; I pay for their services, so everything has to run smoothly. This is not always the case. Technical matters come in the way, I fuck up, we have to take it over and over again. I have learned to love and live with these mistakes, but when you’ve toured with the same show 30 times, and you know every single part of it, it starts to get boring. Then you begin to fuck it up on purpose. This is when it starts to get fun again. I have never had a problem with performing alone, because I don’t feel alone on stage. – I have my audience!

Q. What was the concept of your show as you conceived it when you began performing? How has this idea progressed till today?

PN. It all started when I lost my band. One went to USA to play with a band, another went to Poland, and the third one simply disappeared. Suddenly I was standing there with a record-deal and a bunch of songs, ready to conquer the world. One day, jamming in my basement I discovered that I could play drums and bass simultaneously! I had a lot of fun with that, playing clubs and festivals being the “late night freak show”. Suddenly I got injured and had to cool down with it. Besides, I felt there were things missing in the music. So I started off producing my own first clone-video consisting of only one clone, playing guitar and vocals. And then it just went on from there. Eventually I got people to help me with the photo-shoot and engineering, and so now this is what I do.

Prins Nitram PR 08 jpg.jpgQ. You’ve spoken of ‘the power of the story’ – is there a story in your music and your shows as well?

PN. In my concert I will try to tell the story of the many “you and me”-s… This is the true story of the clones. How they came about and how they will die and rise again, die and rise again and again and again…

Q. Is there an instrument that you do not yet play, but would like to include in your repertoire and your songs?

PN. A bunch. Tuba, cello, theremin and tabla, just to name a few.

Q. Finally, would you consider being part of a band again, or do you like your current performance status too much for that?

PN. Right now I am actually working with a band – we are writing the songs together, and I am very excited about it. I also enjoy the solo-shows- they take me places I wouldn’t be able to go with a band (in more than one level). I need the inspiration and company of other fellow musicians, but I also need my own space – it’s like every other aspect of life: balance.

Interview questions by Shashwati Kala

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